Supermarkets may introduce Uber-style “surge pricing” in a move that throw household budgets into chaos.
Several reports suggest the country’s major supermarkets – including Sainsbury’s and Tesco – are investigating the possibility of an Uber-style approach, which sees prices rise in times of high demand.
Motoring groups have been quick to respond with Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman, claiming surge pricing could “blow a smokescreen” over fuel prices at a time when trust in retailers is already low.
Mr Williams believes the driving public would take a cynical view of the practice, which would be seen as a way for sellers to increase prices “by stealth”.
Electronic price changes were tested in some Marks & Spencer food stores last year.
The firm used the labels to offer special deals before 11am to encourage workers to buy their food before the lunchtimes rush.
But shops will also be able to remove offers on sought-after goods in a bid to maximise profits.
Taxi firm Uber has been criticised for inflating prices during busy periods.
FairFuelUK founder Howard Cox says the introduction of demand-inflated pricing would remove “any consideration of fairness”, claiming hard-working motorists and small business would continue to be “exploited”.
Fuel prices have been on a gradual downward trajectory in recent months, as result of the failing cost of oil.
Simon Williams said: “It is odd that the supermarkets who command high volume sales and claim to operate on low margins would chose to manipulate prices in such a way at the risk of alienating customers.
“Fuel is a commodity product and its price is clearly promoted on forecourt totems to draw in customers.
“Therefore increasing the price of fuel which they have already bought at one wholesale price seems very underhand.
“Drivers already feel they are paying some of the highest fuel prices in Europe and any move which appears to increase retailers’ profits at periods of high demand will be viewed with anger by the UK’s 38 million motorists.”